Saturday, Nov 01, 2014
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More roads to get paved in Royal Highlands

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BROOKSVILLE - Another batch of roads in Royal Highlands will get paved.

County commissioners Tuesday voted 4-1 to the second ordinance in two weeks that creates a Royal Highlands Municipal Service Benefit Unit (MSBU). This one consists of 266 lots on limerock roads proposed for paving.

The cost of the project is $1.09 million, with the county paying $359,890, or one-third of the cost. Property owners are responsible for two-thirds of the construction cost and all engineering, testing and administrative fees. They will have an option of paying a one-time assessment of $3,361 or spread payments out for 10 years at a cost of $482 per lot per year.

Last week, commissioners approved spending $4.25 million to pave 1,112 roads in the northwest subdivision.

Unlike last week, when scores of Royal Highlands residents showed up to either protest or praise the pavings, Tuesday's meeting attracted only a handful of homeowners.

Their arguments supporting the MSBU were the same: property values will increase and health problems will decrease with the absence of limerock. Others said they should not be forced to pay for something they don't want, even though a majority approved.

Commissioner Jim Adkins, the sole dissenting vote, said he disagrees with new rules that require only 51 percent of homeowners to approve paving the roads in their neighborhoods instead of the previous 60 percent.

In the Royal Highlands case, 55 percent of the residents approved the creation of the MSBU.

"I'd like it to go back up," Adkins said of the percentage.

Adkins said he would like to see it go up to at least 75 percent. He added that he would have voted against last week's ordinance but chose not to because he didn't think it would make a difference. But this week, Adkins said in all good conscience, he couldn't go along with it. Adkins said he's heard from constituents who complained they were on fixed incomes and could not afford an assessment.

Adkins' suggestion to revisit the issue went nowhere so it is unlikely that the new rules will be overturned. Commission Chairman Dave Russell said he sees no need to revert.

"I frankly think the process is good as it stands," he said. "If we were really committed to getting these roads paved, I think that's the way it needs to be."

Russell said it makes sense to tie a group of road paving projects together because it is cheaper than doing each road individually at different times.

Another change that went into effect at the beginning of the year was allowing county staffers to send survey cards to people in the proposed MSBU area if petitioners who are requesting a road paved send in $250. Before, people had to canvass the area and gather petitions themselves to submit to the county.

To see which roads are slated for paving, visit http://tbo.ly/1egP1J8

Also Tuesday:

? Commissioners approved a lease with Summit Investment Group LLC, which is relocating its safety products distribution company from Dade City to the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport.

The Airport's revenue will increase by $1,103.72 annually, with incremental increases throughout the term of the lease.

Summit will employ six to seven people initially, with the intent of hiring more as it expands.

? At their afternoon Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting, members moved up the design phases for widening two segments of State Road 50 to fiscal year 2014.

Both areas are on the county's east side. The first segment is at Windmere Road/Bronson Boulevard to McKethan Road and the second segment is McKethan Road to U.S. 301.

? Commissioners approved partnering with the organizers of the proposed "Italian-American Festival," to be held March 21-23 at Anderson Snow Park.

The event will have music, grape stomping, bocce ball tournaments, cannoli eating contests, cooking demonstrations, a children's area with face painting, rides, puppets, traveling minstrels, organ grinders and more.

Organizers hope to make this an annual event. In exchange for the county's assistance, parks and recreation will receive 20 percent of the income generated and a share of the parking concession.

mbates@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5290

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